Jazz Star Graces “Music Family Day”
From the New Times of Rwanda
by Lydia Hsu, 1st May 2012
Denise Jannah, one of Holland’s leading Jazz vocalists, performed on Sunday, to an audience of 550 children and family members at La Luna d’Or in Kicukiro.
The “Music Family Day” was a co-production of WE-ACTx, an international health care organisation, and Musicians without Borders (MwB), an NGO dedicated to using music to facilitate healing and reconciliation.
The Embassy of Netherlands in Rwanda sponsored the event. Ambassador Frans Makken attended with his wife and children. The children took part in the music and dancing.
“They say in Rwanda that music is a symbol of friendship,” said Makken, “Well, we can see today that that is very true. This shows once again how music can bring together people of all walks of life, all ages, all nations.”
Denise Jannah shares her music skills with the children on the “Music Family Day”.
The event marked Jannah’s second trip to Rwanda. The Jazz vocalist has toured the world with appearances at major Jazz festivals, prestigious events, and special performances to President Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and Queen Beatrix. However, Jannah says that her first trip to Rwanda in March 2011 “stood out” from all the trips she has made.
“I was in a country where I’ve seen love at work,” said Jannah, “Where I’ve seen that it is possible to replace hatred with love.”
Jannah says she was enlightened, uplifted, and encouraged by her experience in Rwanda, and believes that many other countries and people in the world can learn from Rwanda’s example of determination.
“The state the world is in today may make you feel pessimistic because when we turn on the news it’s all about disaster and recession,” said Jannah, “And that’s all real, but there’s so much good that’s happening in Rwanda that does not get the proper attention.”
Jannah initially returned to Rwanda on the invitation of the Netherlands Embassy, which had requested her to perform at the Queen’s Day celebration on May 1. However, Jannah immediately saw the invitation as an opportunity for social action. In addition to her career as a jazz vocalist, composer, voice teacher, and actress, Jannah is also an ambassador for MwB and believes that she has a responsibility to use her talent to serve others.
“I’m not a musician for my own vanity, to stand there on the stage for the applause, the fame, the flowers,” said Jannah, “But I am an instrument, a servant to music.”
Makken called Jannah a “real ambassador” for her work, and WE-ACTx founder, Dr. Kathy Anastos, thanked Jannah for “demonstrating how therapeutic music can be.”
“I am living proof of what music can mean to someone,” said Jannah. “If there is anything that is burdening me or worrying me – anything from a headache to a death in the family, relationship problems, stress – when I sing, once the music starts, it just slides off me.”
In the following months, Jannah will travel to the US, Albania, Croatia, Canada, and Colombia. However, she sees herself returning to Rwanda.
“I know I have extra work to do through my musicianship. I have to give back to God for the talent I’ve been blessed with,” said Jannah. “It’s easy to do because, hey, I love singing so much. If I can give back just by doing what I love to do most, that in itself is a great blessing.”
Posted on May 5, 2012, in African Musicians, Live Music Gig, News and tagged Denise Jannah, Kicukiro, La Luna d'Or, Music Family Day, Musicians Without Borders, Rwandan Music, We-ACTx. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.